Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Day 2, Round 2

Okay, the hair still isn't brushed - it's time to get it cut again, obviously - but the bed is made and that makes me feel one thousand percent better, and the coffee has cream in it, a bad habit I'm going to have to break if I want to be healthier someday. But it's a start. Tea is on the boil - Orange Spice black tea, by Stash. Too much coffee in too short a period of time gets me buzzing too hard to be productive and that's what my budding new writing habit it all about: Getting Productive.

Getting around to it, yet again.

Did I mention that I have a cart-and-horse problem?

I've gotten all sorts of items and made all sorts of lists, just to see things gather rust or rot away because I didn't get the infrastructure in place first. I just went for the fun stuff, failing to see that the fun stuff can't happen if the infrastructure hasn't been built first, or I started in the wrong place and built the wrong infrastructure (Hello. Do I really need several different blogs and zillions of emails and a business address before I even have a business?). We're talking decades of low-level frustration before the actual pattern became too clear to ignore any longer.

I live in my head far too much, dreaming of a day when some vague requirement is fulfilled and all of what I want is magically available. Well. I'd say I've been a long time in waking up.

The 3K-A_Day challenge isn't really the start of something, nor is it an ending to something. It's a goal on the way to other goals. It's a step, the start of a ritual and a routine.

A few months ago I started wondering if my middle child might have some sort of ADD. No, he's not hyperactive. He is energetic but hyperactive is an adjective that implies an extra, perhaps even manic, activity that is not containable by mere mortal parents. MB is containable. He's exhausting, but not unduly so. However, he can't concentrate when he needs to. I've been reassured by every non-medical person I've run across that MB is just being All Boy, and I Was That Way At His Age, and this is Completely  Normal.

Ah. No. Well, all of the above statements may very well be true, but they also don't preclude the possibility that MB is having problems concentrating and retaining important knowledge, thereby limiting his ability to process information and to formulate appropriate plans and strategies. I know that sounds like a lot of edu-speak or possibly therapy-speak, but I'm not really sure how to put it any other way. In short, we've had one too many conversations where I ask him to do A but B gets done instead because he's listening too fast to actually hear what I'm talking about. I'd estimate he hears three or four words and then extrapolates the rest. ("I need the blue bowl with the veggies" translates somehow into "Give her the red bowl with the fruit" because he heard "bowl" and "edible matter" and not a whole heck of lot else.)

So I started a little light research on ADD. I'm not a doctor, I don't play one on television, and I'm not going to go into a doctor's office and tell her what her job is. I'm also not above getting a little information and asking if this covers what's going on, and if not, why not. I like research. It's relaxing. It's fun. And I learn new things. What isn't to like? What I learned was 1. Evidently there isn't any such thing as just plain ADD anymore. They've lumped it in entirely with ADHD and then subtracted the Hyperactive part. Okay. Interesting. I may think that's odd but I accept that this is part of my search criteria now. 2. It's quite possible that MB does have some form of it. When I found sites that had little checklists I started checking them. I checked quite a few little boxes. On the bright side, if the child does have ADD, it's a borderline, high-functioning sort. Yayy! Good news! It doesn't look likely that we'll need drug therapy for this! (I'm not against therapeutic drug use, mind you, I just like using the least invasive techniques first when possible.) And 3. This SO explains my junior high and high school years.

So many things went into making my jr. high and high school experience awful. Puberty is one of the usual suspects, of course, and there's the feral atmosphere of junior high to begin with. There is a whole laundry list of events that just made everything into a sort of perfect hellstorm. In no particular order:

The difference between elementary and junior high/high school.

In elementary there was little homework and I only had three different classrooms to deal with by the end of 6th grade. Beginning with junior high I had six to seven different classrooms, each with its own teacher and set of homework expectations. Each teacher only assigned an hour or two of homework - maybe a little less, maybe a little more here and there - but multiply that by the amount of classes I was attending and it gets a little daunting even more than 3 decades removed. I'd say a lot of people manage that divide without too much difficulty, but for me it became insurmountable.

The difference between the elementary years and junior high and high school marked a divide in how I was raised, as well. My Dad was a construction worker and a good one, making good money, but when the economy freezes up fewer jobs means fewer paychecks. So Mom went back to work and began to finish up the college work she'd been putting time into since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Full time work and part time college meant that nobody was making sure I was doing my homework any more. So I didn't do my homework anymore.

My parents could never figure out why. Or, rather, they were partly right and partly wrong and I didn't have the vocabulary to explain to them what was going in between my ears to help them help me succeed. As nobody is ever told what might have been, we're left with an intriguing thought problem. I could still have been a problem child even if they knew what I needed and how to give it to me. Or I might not have been. We're never going to know the difference at this great remove.

Whatever the issue, I proceeded to drive everybody dealing with me absolutely batty with my perceived intransigence. I heard the "You're a genius, why aren't you doing the work?" speech more often than I can remember. It's etched into my DNA at this point.

I couldn't tell you then. I have a better idea now.

One of the reasons I flubbed up and flubbed badly is that I had no sense of time, and no idea whatsoever on how to manage it. This is something my mother could never get her head around. She was born with a sense of time. She managed her own wonderfully well. However, she was completely lacking in any sort of empathy - I'm not saying she was a sociopath, as she had most normal emotions - it's just that she lacked empathy, of being able to put herself in somebody else's shoes and understand that someone else might not see the world the way that she did. If she saw the world a certain way, then that was the way the rest of the world saw it as well. It was impossible to tell her otherwise. You might as well have been telling a person born without arms what they felt like to operate. So if my Mom understood something, as far as she was concerned everybody else understood it as well. If they operated contrary to that understanding, then they were doing so deliberately for their own incomprehensible reasons, although Mom usually thought it was because they were trying to annoy her. I didn't know what I was doing, so I couldn't explain it. Mom thought I knew exactly what I was doing for a purpose she couldn't understand. Yeah, this went about as well as anybody could expect.

Dad, I think, probably could have figured it out eventually. He had a better grasp of what was going on than Mom did, certainly. But he also came from an era and a culture where Mom raised the kids and Dad was there for backup. Also, and nearly certainly because of his own personality and the marital dynamics, he gave in to Mom a lot more than he should have. Right? Wrong? I have no real blame for either of them. They did the best they could with the cards they were played.

Another reason I didn't succeed despite being very intelligent, is that in some subjects I just could not concentrate. I tried. I was being told by everybody around me that I could understand the material if I wanted to, and that it was just a matter of my intransigence that I wasn't getting good grades. So when I was sent to my room to work on my homework, I would try. My eyes would slide off the page, though. I couldn't keep them on the work at hand. I would yank them back to the problem again and again and again and I still couldn't make sense of what was in front of me, and I couldn't concentrate on it, and my eyes would slide from the work at hand to the edge of the page over and over and over again. And then I would give up. It is a feeling of despair that I cannot begin to describe. I was told over and over again that it was my fault that I wasn't doing better in school, so therefore it had to be my fault that I couldn't keep my attention on the task at hand. I internalized that I was broken. I had to be. Everybody knew that if I was just notbroken everything would be all right, but I couldn't make myself notbroken. Everybody told me I could and they had to be right, so if I was broken then it had to be my fault. I'm a failure, always, and in everything, and nothing will ever change that. I will never be notbroken.

To wrap up this particular monologue while pledging to continue it another day, I think I may very well have an undiagnosed case of ADD and these are my reasons why. I can concentrate, but under some circumstances I'm simply unable to. And even under the best of circumstances I get distracted very, very easily. This describes MB with his hear the gist and guess the rest pretty well. I do not every want MB to think he is broken. He isn't. It's just that he - and I - need a different approach. It can't be assumed that we know how to manage time. That's like asking us to operate with a rule book that everybody else has memorized but that we have never received, much less read. (It feels that way sometimes. It really, really does.)

So, no matter whether we're high functioning ADD or there is something else going on in between our ears, some of the initial steps to cope seem to be the same. Set up ritual. Set up routine. Set up the rules of the road that work for us, even if it isn't the same rule book that the rest of the world seems to understand so easily. Modify ourselves and our environment so we can achieve the goals we want to achieve. I am under no illusion that this is going to be easy. I have a lot of damage I have to undo or learn how to cope with before I can be the role model he needs. I've spent all of his life telling him to do something but never demonstrating how to do it. I'm learning how.

My steps? I'm still working on what they should be even as I'm trying to walk through them. But a few non-concrete thoughts: Something tangible. Every day. How is anybody going to learn a routine if the main operator in the household hasn't established one? 3K A Day is one of my tangibles. If I want to be a writer, then I just plain need to be a writer. Every day, unless that day involves recovering from major trauma of some sort. Making my bed every day is a tangible. The coffee. Breakfast. Between the beginning of this post and this point I got my hair brushed, two cups of tea, and pruned a mad mutant ollalieberry back to some semblance of sanity.

Set goals.

Do Them.

Live by the codes of Sam Vimes and Jenny Waynest.

Don't skip something important even for a good reason, because you'll eventually start skipping it for bad reasons.

To do something, you must do it. The reasons for the action are everything, just as sometimes the small steps getting there are the most important ones of all.

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